No, we haven’t started sharing jokes on the How to Web blog (yet?), but we do have some tips on how to make the most out of a tech conference. Not that we mean to take the fun out of it, because there’s plenty of that involved as well. Stay with me here.
It’s always exciting to walk into a venue full of people that have come together to share experiences and learn from one another. Energy levels are high, pitches are ready to be shared, contacts are eager to be exchanged and beers are just waiting to be popped open. So it’s obviously easy to get caught up in the general enthusiasm and forget what you’re really there for. This is our way of helping out.
If you’re a tech professional…
1. Do some research on the speakers that sounds the most interesting and write down some questions you’d like to get answers to. Other specialists are always happy to see someone ask the question they may be shy to ask and speakers are always thrilled to see that attendees have gone the extra mile to find out more about them.
2. Don’t limit your interactions to the colleagues or friends you came with to the event. Step out of your comfort zone and meet new people, either during lunch, at networking sessions, during the parties or coffee breaks. You’ve not only come to an event to learn more, but also to extend your circle with savvy new people.
3. Deepen your knowledge and experience by really paying attention to the talks on stage. Don’t just go to a conference because HR said you have to. Take advantage and really maximize your benefit. It may be a day off, but it can be so much more than just waiting for the time to pass.
If you’re an entrepreneur/startup founder…
1. Prepare your schedule thoroughly before the event:
– find out who are the speakers that are experienced in your area of interest,
– learn how to spot them in a crowd
– and how you can meet them (mentoring sessions are sometimes organized or you can ask to get introduced by someone you know or even by the organizers);
2. Don’t have lunch. Yes, that’s right! Lunch is the perfect time to network and talk to all the right people. Grab a quick bit if your blood sugar levels are low, but make the most out of this time. And remember what your mom taught you: it’s not nice to talk with your mouth full.
3. Don’t miss the parties, because that’s where a lot of deals get made. This is a great chance to have a good time while also discussing business in a more relaxed way. When beers are popped open, everyone relaxes and tends to show their true self. Sometimes personalities click and that’s how you can find good partners, a potential investor or a good mentor to help you along the way.
If you’re a freelancer…
1. Have some of your portfolio at hand (on your tablet, phone, laptop, etc.) and your business cards ready. Differentiate yourself when pitching your personal brand and don’t forget to exchange contact info with potential leads.
2. Pick out top talks, keynotes and panels at the event and get involved in the discussions. Ask smart questions during Q&A after the keynotes and panels and get noticed. Don’t forget to state your name and company/profile before asking the question.
3. Use any means that you can to find out who are the attendees and scout for potential partners or clients. Sometimes event organizers make the participant list public or offer other means to help you get in touch with other participants (such as a mobile or a web app, etc.).
But seriously now, who knows some good jokes about tech entrepreneurs?